PPRT Application Procedure

The University of Michigan Center for Occupational Health and Safety Engineering (UM-COHSE), an Education and Research Center (ERC) supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), invites proposals for Pilot Research Training Projects in the area of occupational health and safety (OH&S) for the period July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. It is anticipated that four projects with awards up to $20,000 each will be funded under this initiative. This program is open to PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty at colleges and universities in HHS Region V (the Great Lakes Region).Information on the application process, as well as current and past pilot projects can be found on our website at: http://umpprt.org.

The principal objective of this program is the support of research training; therefore all applications must demonstrate that the proposed work will increase the number and/or quality of scientists who pursue research careers in occupational health and safety disciplines. The program also focuses on pilot research, i.e., innovative studies that generate preliminary results that will lead to applications for traditional peer-reviewed research grants (e.g., NIH R01, R03, etc.) in OH&S disciplines. Applications proposing support for existing projects without the addition of new research goals will not be funded. This program is not intended to support pilot research performed by senior faculty in the absence of a strong research training purpose.


Research trainees must be doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows (including Occupational Medicine residents), or full-time faculty at institutions within HHS Region V. Faculty research trainees must not be above the rank of Assistant Professor. An individual is eligible to receive only one grant as a pilot project research trainee over the course of his/her career.

Note: This rule does not limit the number of doctoral students or postdoctoral fellows that a faculty member can supervise as research trainees; however, only one award will be made per faculty member per year.

Faculty Oversight of Research Training: Proposals that support a doctoral student or a postdoctoral fellow as the research trainee must have a faculty sponsor who will serve as the Principal Investigator and who will be held responsible for the scientific and fiscal integrity of the project. The PI is also responsible for submitting all reports in a timely manner. The faculty sponsor must serve on the “graduate faculty” of the applicant’s institution. (A member of the “graduate faculty” has been approved by his/her institution to serve as chair of a doctoral dissertation committee.) The research trainee will serve as a Co-Principal Investigator on the project.

Application Submission

Your application packet must consist of three PDF files. The first PDF file must include your proposal and appendices. The second file must contain a copy of your IRB or IACUC application, a statement of exemption from one of those bodies, or a statement attesting that your project does not involve human or animal subjects. The third file must contain either documentation that the research trainee has received training in the Responsible Conduct of Research or a statement attesting to when that training will be completed.

The files should be submitted as e-mail attachments to umcohse-info@umich.edu.

Deadline:The deadline for applications is 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Incomplete applications received after that date will be returned without review. Applications received by Monday, April 29th, 2019 will be pre-screened for completeness and adherence to the application guidelines.

Budget Requirements and Restrictions

Each application must provide a detailed budget and budget justification using the PHS Form 398 format (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html). If the awarded amount is not sufficient to support the proposed work, the applicant must demonstrate the availability of matching funds to assure that all project goals will be achieved by the June 30, 2020 deadline. June 30, 2020 is the absolute last day for any charges to a pilot project account as there is no mechanism for continuing funding beyond that date. Charges incurred after this date will not be reimbursed and unexpended funds will be forfeited. In no case can the total costs exceed $20,000.

Budgets are to be used exclusively for research expenses associated with the described research or to support the doctoral student research trainee in the course of their performing this research. Examples include: necessary equipment and supplies, subject fees, and travel to collect data or present findings. Salary support may be requested for necessary research personnel such as junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate student research trainees, and undergraduate students; however, salary support must be demonstrated to be directly related to the project. Equipment requests are discouraged and may be eliminated outright from proposals. If support is requested for the doctoral student research trainee, the salary support must be calculated on the current Kirschstein-NRSA predoctoral award level (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-17-084.html). Salary support should not be requested for graduate students unless they are the designated research trainee on the project. Funding will not be approved for secretarial support for pilot research projects, salary support for senior faculty, or tuition for research trainees. Please see the PPRT Budget Forms .


 All research trainees must receive mentorship for their project. Doctoral and postdoctoral trainees may be mentored by any member of their institution’s graduate faculty. Junior faculty research trainees must receive mentorship from a tenured faculty member.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

 Our funder, NIOSH, follows the NIH policy regarding the instruction of trainees in RCR (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-10-019.html). Documentation that the research trainee has received training in RCR which fits these requirements must be received within the project period.

Research Involving Human or Animal Subjects

 All projects involving either human or animal subjects must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The IRB must be registered with the DHHS Office of Human Research Protections and have a current Federalwide Assurance Number. Documentation of IRB or IACUC approval of protocols, as well as copies of currently approved consent forms, must be provided to UM-COHSE in advance of project funding. IRB or IACUC approval means full, final approval that includes approval documentation with the exact title and PI name as provided on the pilot project application.

Applicants are very strongly encouraged to include a copy of the IRB or IACUC application or approval, a statement of exemption from one of those bodies, or a statement attesting that your project does not involve human or animal subjects with their application.

Proposals for Research at Foreign Sites

 Proposals for research at foreign sites will require additional clearances. If an applicant is considering submitting a proposal for research at a foreign site, the applicant must contact the PPRT Director, Rick Neitzel (rneitzel@umich.edu), at least 4 weeks prior to the application deadline (i.e. by April 11, 2019).

Proposal Format

 All proposals submitted to the Pilot Project Research Training Program must conform to the following format:

  • Cover Page which lists the following information (PPRT Cover Page Template):
    • Project Title
    • Names, email addresses, institutional affiliations, and roles of key investigators
    • List of the project titles, key investigators, and application year for all previous successful applications to UM-COHSE’s PPRT program. (Note: All previous PPRT projects are listed on COHSE’s website at http://cohse.umich.edu/funding/pprt-program-overview/past-funded-pprt-proposals) If none received, please note “none received.”
    • A statement which attests to the fact that the enclosed pilot grant application is not currently under review with any other grant-administering program
  • Table of Contents (Separate page; PPRT TOC Template)
  • Abstract (1/2 page maximum)
  • Technical Proposal limited to a maximum of five single-spaced pages. (Note: While the maximum individual section length adds up to six pages, applications whose technical proposal exceeds the five page limit will be returned without review.)
    • Specific Aims (1/2 page maximum)
    • Significance (1 page maximum)
    • Qualifications of Investigator (includes research/professional experience of research trainee and faculty sponsor as appropriate, 1 page maximum)
    • Adequacy of resources required to complete the project (including laboratories, computers, access to work sites, etc., 1/2 page maximum)
    • Research Plan (must include quarterly milestones and end of year deliverables, 3 pages maximum)
  • Time Line showing start/completion times of major activities
  • Budget and Justification (submitted using PHS Form 398 budget format)
  • NIH Formatted Biosketch for each key investigator (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/biosketch-blankformat-Forms-D.docx) [Note: NIH revised the biosketch format in 2015. This new format is required.]
  • Letter of support from the faculty sponsor/mentor is required for all doctoral student or postdoctoral fellow research trainees. This letter should demonstrate that the research trainee has the appropriate mentoring and advising support necessary to carry out the proposed study during the allotted timeframe and to publish the results of their study findings. Additionally, it should address how this project will aid in the research trainee’s pursuit of a research career in an OH&S discipline.
  • Description and amount of other sources of support during the budget period (Note: This is required for the research trainee and must include any matching funds necessary to complete work or other support for the doctoral student or postdoctoral fellow. It can be in narrative form.).
  • Letter(s) of support from external stakeholder(s) are encouraged if their cooperation is necessary for the completion of the project.
  • References cited in the proposal
  • Attached as separate file: Either documentation that the research trainee has received training in the Responsible Conduct of Research or a statement attesting to when that training will be completed during the project period. (required)
  • Attached as separate file: Either a complete copy of IRB or IACUC application or approval, a statement of exemption from one of those bodies, or a statement attesting that your project does not involve human or animal subjects. (optional; very strongly encouraged)

Proposal Evaluation

 Proposals will be reviewed by the Pilot Research Project Scientific Review Committee and applicants will be notified of an award decision by June 30, 2019. Awards are contingent upon the continuation of the federal funding of COHSE for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Proposals will be scored on a 100-point quality scale, using the following weighting factors:

  • Relevance to NORA priorities and/or regional needs: 15 points
  • Likelihood, nature, and extent of impact on worker health and safety and the development of effective assessment tools, methodologies, and strategies: 10 points
  • Preparation of the research trainee to perform proposed work: 10 points
  • Adequacy of resources (faculty advisors, laboratories, computers, access to work sites, etc.) required to complete the pilot project: 10 points
  • Innovativeness: 10 points
  • Scientific merit: 15 points
  • Adequacy and feasibility of experimental plan: 15 points
  • Building research capacity of the research trainee (likelihood of trainee’s success in obtaining future funding from conventional sources, or for continuing to pursue research in an OH&S field): 15 points

Reporting Requirements

Principal Investigators are responsible for submitting mid-year and final reports on the project by the listed deadlines. Additionally, awardees are required to present their project at our annual Research Symposium held during the University of Michigan’s Winter term. Funding will be available to defray the travel costs incurred by selected individuals.

A brief mid-year progress report must be submitted by February 1, 2020. The mid-year report consists of the completion of the following document: PPRT mid-year report.

A final report must be submitted no later than August 1, 2020. The final report must include the following sections:

  • Executive Summary (1 page single-spaced)
  • Final Technical Report (15-20 double-spaced pages, plus additional pages for references and relevant appendices) that includes the following sections:
    • Introduction/background
    • Significance to occupational health
    • Methods
    • Results
    • Discussion/Conclusions
    • References
    • Appendices, as necessary
  • A paragraph on plans for follow-up publications and grant applications
  • A 2-3 paragraph, lay-language vignette regarding the funded research that can be disseminated to a broad audience of occupational health practitioners, policymakers, and the general public. This statement should address what problem was evaluated, why this problem is important, what the research project showed, and what the practical relevance and ramifications of the research are.
  • Photo(s) or other graphical material with text caption(s) which you will permit us to post on our website.
  • Citations and copies of any publications resulting from this research.
  • A 1/2 page description of how the program increased the trainee’s research expertise and capabilities.

Final Reports that do not meet these specifications will be sent back for revisions.

In addition to the above reports, copies of all publications resulting from the project must be submitted to the Pilot Research Training Program Administrator. Please note that you will be contacted at least once a year for at least five years following the completion of your project to request this information.

Finally, all publications that result from PPRT funding should include the following acknowledgement: “This publication was supported by the Grant or Cooperative Agreement Number, T42 OH008455, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Faculty sponsors who do not meet the above reporting requirements will not be eligible for future PPRT funding.

The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)

Information on the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nora/. NORA, unveiled in 1996, is now entering its third decade (2016-2026). From 1996 to 2007, NORA established three key occupational health research needs: Disease and Injury, Work Environment and Workforce, and Research Tools and Approaches. Within these three areas were subcategories of important research areas as provided at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-108/. The second decade of NORA focused on taking the research that had been done and transitioning it into the workplace. The questions NORA aims to address in the third decade are as follows, “What research should we be doing in 2020 and beyond? Can an efficient and effective structure be found to identify and integrate research priorities?”

The NIOSH Program Portfolio has been organized into 10 NORA Sector Programs that represent industrial sectors, and 7 cross-sector programs organized around around the major health and safety issues affecting the U.S. working population, as listed below and discussed in http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/. Identification of research needs within these sectors is currently ongoing. PPRT proposals should identify which NIOSH Sector or Cross-Sector Programs and specific Strategic Goal (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/prioritygoals.html) they contribute to.

NORA Sector Programs

  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
  • Construction
  • Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Oil and Gas Extraction
  • Public Safety
  • Services
  • Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities
  • Wholesale and Retail Trade

NIOSH Cross-Sector Programs

  • Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular and Other Disease
  • Hearing Loss Prevention
  • Immune, Infectious and Dermal Disease Prevention
  • Musculoskeletal Health
  • Respiratory Health
  • Traumatic Injury Prevention
  • Healthy Work Design and Well-being